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Dundonald High old boy-turned-principal Ken Perry saved alma mater from axe

Dundonald High principal Ken Perry chats with pupils
Dundonald High principal Ken Perry chats with pupils

By Rebecca Black

Meet the Dundonald High old boy who has returned to his school and helped lead it out of formal intervention.

Ken Perry was formally appointed principal of his alma mater earlier this year, but has been acting head for several years and led the school on a remarkable journey from what seemed like inevitable closure to a healthy position.

The South Eastern Education and Library Board recommended the school be closed in 2013, however its staff, supporters and pupils fought back with a strong campaign.

Education Minister John O'Dowd announced in January 2014 that Dundonald High would remain open, but issued a stern warning he was not satisfied with the performance of the school and challenged its supporters and staff to work to improve it.

Mr Perry, his staff and his pupils have worked hard to meet this challenge.

The percentage of pupils achieving five good GCSEs including maths and English has soared from 15% in 2012 to 36.8% in 2014.

But the icing on the cake came on the last day of term when the school was notified that it was exiting formal intervention.

The school was placed into formal intervention in December 2012 following a poor report from the Education and Training Inspectorate (ETI).

The school received a letter from the Department of Education on Tuesday to tell it that an inspection carried out by ETI in April had found that, overall, the quality of education provided by the school was now satisfactory.

The department congratulated the school on its successful efforts.

A support programme will stay in place until next March to help the college maintain its progress.

Mr Perry said the news was "music to his ears".

"It is with delight that I received the good news that all the hard work and determination which my dedicated team have displayed on our journey to school improvement has been successful," he said.

"The recognition which I received from David Hughes at DENI that our school should exit the formal intervention process was music to my ears and a real high on which to end this most successful school year.

"My governors and staff are delighted with the news and it serves as a real springboard from which we will enter the next exciting period of our continued commitment to raising standards."

Mr Perry has thanked all involved at every level of the school for their efforts.

"I wish to thank all pupils, parents, staff, governors and friends of the school for their dedication and commitment," he said.

"I also would like to personally thank my vice principal Kathryn Patterson-McCombe, John Wilkinson and Uel Dougherty for their professional input over this past year. Roll on 2015-16."

There are currently 10 schools across Northern Ireland in formal intervention.

Schools are placed into formal intervention when the ETI finds standards to be inadequate.

The schools still in formal intervention are: Ashgrove Primary School, Newtownabbey; Euston Street PS, Belfast; Fleming Fulton Special School (June 2014); Laurelhill Community College, Lisburn; Monkstown Community School; Movilla High School, Newtownards; Park School and Educational Resource Centre, Belfast; St John the Baptist PS; St Mary's PS, Killyleagh, and Tullygally PS, Lurgan.

Belfast Telegraph


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